House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), a key figure in the immigration reform debate, has called for two changes in current immigration law in order to deal with the surge of children arriving at the US border from Central America, according to a June 25 article in The Hill (see below).

One change that Goodlatte recommended would be to eliminate the current bar to expedited removal for minors. The other would be to make the asylum laws stricter in order to deal with what he called "a minimal standard under current law to show a credible fear of persecution".

Under current law, unaccompanied non-US citizen children ("UAC") arriving at the US border must be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") within 72 hours in order to "be promptly placed in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interests of the child."

See Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, 8 U.S.C. Section 1232(b)(2).

In a May, 2014 Fact Sheet, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a division of HHS, has described the above policy as a "move toward a child-welfare-based model of care for children and away from the adult detention model."

Goodlatte, evidently, would like to turn back the statutory clock to a time when children were treated exactly the same as adults under our immigration laws and subject to the same harsh rules and procedures.

While The Hill did not say which changes in asylum law Goodlatte would like to see take place, he clearly intends to make it more difficult for children, who are arguably the most vulnerable of all to persecution and least able to protect themselves against it, to find refuge in the United States.

According to the June 25 article in The Hill, Goodlatte hits at WH: Reform, border security won't solve immigration crisis, Goodlatte made the above recommendations in a June 24 letter to President Obama.

If Goodlatte's proposals were adopted, they would no doubt make it easier for the US to send unaccompanied 2-year old Central American children arriving at the US border back into the Mexican desert, and to turn away older children fleeing gang violence in countries such as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

See, e.g., Thomas Boerman, Central American Gang Related Asylum Cases: Background, Leverage Points And The Use Of Expert Witnesses, Immigration Daily, December 15, 2009.

It will be interesting to see what kind of progress Goodlatte's proposed legal changes, which would only aggravate the humanitarian crisis at the Mexican border that has so far involved more than 50,000 unaccompanied children during the current fiscal year alone, make toward becoming part of our immigration laws.